NJPN Conference 2021: “We come together for our common home”
The chant: “We come together for our common home”, ran through the liturgies at this year’s annual conference of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales (NJPN). It attracted 200 participants to Derbyshire for the first face to face meeting – albeit through masks – of Justice and Peace activists from every diocese since the pandemic started. The mantra came from a new hymn written by liturgical musician Marty Haugen especially for the conference, which took the theme, ‘2021: Moment of Truth – Action for Life on Earth’.
A liturgy group, led by Colette Joyce, Justice and Peace Fieldworker in Westminster Diocese, and including pianist Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD, and Columban co-worker James Trewby on the clarinet reflected the broad range of participants seeking to mobilise for the November COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Also, to promote ecological conversion and action in the Church and wider society, all inspired by the papal encyclical Laudato Si’.
Conference chair Christine Allen reminded that there are now 100 days to COP26 and CAFOD is working with the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and faith leaders to lobby for global warming to be kept below 1.5 degrees. She reported that CAFOD, “amplifies voices around the world in climate vulnerable situations”. Bishop John Arnold of Salford, lead bishop on the environment for England and Wales, said Churches and faiths are making clear they want action and “we can mend our common home”. He has been in zooms with COP26 president Alok Sharma MP, “trying to speak loudly to politicians”. In the conference Mass he thanked NJPN “for who you are, what you stand for and what you want, and for keeping Pope Francis as an inspiration in our lives and actions.”
“It is important to acknowledge the truth of the crisis of our common home,” Fr P. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam SDB, Coordinator of the ‘Ecology and Creation’ sector of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told the conference in a video message. He said, “the planet is crying out and the poor are crying out; we need to open our ears and hear these painful cries;” feeling there is hope and that “this could be a watershed, a moment of change.” He told NJPN that, “you can count on the support of our Dicastery as we work together under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as families, parishes, communities, and institutions, to heal and protect mother Earth.”
Keynote speaker Lorna Gold, Chair of the Board of the GCCM and author of ‘Climate Generation: Awakening to Our Children’s Future’, highlighted the “vibrant network of networks sustaining and nurturing ecological conversion right across the world” and turning Laudato Si’ “into a lived reality.” She applauded the role young people have played in stimulating climate action. “Young people have done more in two years than the rest of us have done over three decades” she said. Lorna felt the pandemic is teaching us that we are all connected to each other and to nature and what it means to act together to face a common threat. She felt Pope Francis’ vision of ecological conversion refers to “community conversion” and asked: “What if that process of community ecological conversion was to extend to the entire world of faith communities that still encompass 80% of the world’s population?”
Andy Atkins, head of Arocha UK, underlined how far Churches have come with programmes such as Live Simply, Eco Church, Eco Congregation, Climate Sunday and Fossil Fuel Divestment with Operation Noah. In fact, more than 5000 churches across the Christian denominations are registered with green schemes which “was unimaginable 30 years ago” but “we need to speed up.” He deplored the UK government’s loss of credibility to deal with the crises facing us. “At a time when the government says it is leading the world it has cut its aid budget and has opened the door to further fossil fuel development,” he lamented; “we should be saying ‘No More Fossil Fuel Exploitation’ in this country!” Lorna felt the 20 October announcement of fossil fuel divestment should include the 18 Catholic dioceses on England and Wales that have not yet announced divestment.
Fr Eamonn Mulcahy CSSp’s presentation on, ‘Let us dream together: Pope Francis’ Gospel Vision for an Integral Humanity’, considered criticisms of excessive anthropocentrism, consumerism and the technocratic paradigm – all themes taken from Laudato Si’. “We must be agents for healing and restoration” he said, “respecting every living creature and organism.”
Speaker Mark Rotherham, of the Northern Dioceses Environmental Group, felt it essential we transform our current economic system so that it promotes both social equality and environmental protection. “A good life-sustaining economy is about slowly down and recognising planetary boundaries” he said. He described the arms industry as “a huge shadow over our nation” and felt that we need to withdraw legitimacy from this draw on global resources and energy.
NJPN Chair Paul Southgate taught the conference a Navajo hymn ‘The world is so beautiful,’ and called on young people to feed in their primary concerns to the conference. Young university and school students told participants bluntly that they would like “less of fossil fuel companies pretending to care and schools accepting money from them”. They urged Catholics “to challenge the increasingly hostile policy towards refugees”, many of whom are victims of our UK actions in arms trading and raising global temperatures. One criticised “the detachment of our education system from real life” and the attitude that, “the more money we have the more successful we are.”
An enthusiastic action planning session at the end included dioceses forming Laudato Si’ Action Platform groups, organising Climate Sunday Masses, promoting the Live Simply programme in parishes and schools, and urging divestment from fossil fuels. Inspiration was taken from a presentation by Emma Gardner, new Head of Environment in Salford Diocese, who manages the flagship Laudato Si’ Centre and stimulates environmental action in Salford’s parishes and schools. Columbans and Salesians are among those arranging a 24-hour prayer vigil on 5 November – during COP26 – that parishes can join, with intentions fed in from around the world. Many dioceses plan to connect with the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) pilgrimage to Glasgow and the Camino to COP26, setting off in September.
More than 20 stalls were available in the ‘Just Fair’ plus a room where participants could measure their carbon footprints.
Around 15 workshops were available on such topics as: ‘Sustainable Development Goals,’ ‘Conflict and Environment,’ and a ‘Nature Explorer Walk’ with a botanist. Justice and Peace Scotland gave a briefing around ‘Attendance at COP26 – real or virtual’.
Since 2005, NJPN has regularly taken an environmental theme for the national conference and its Environment Working Group, formed that year, helped plan the 2021 conference.
NJPN Conference 2021 Hashtag: #NJPNlifeonearth
Videos from the weekend at: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4HAuivOZMEWq7cF8bAWUskTb1kF91_09
Mid July NW NJPN E Bulletin
No one deserves to receive vitriolic abuse and death threats, certainly not for missing a penalty shot in a football final. If the unlucky England strikers had been white would there have been a racist backlash? The mid July NW NJPN E Bulletin leads with these recent events that expose a disturbing undercurrent of racism in our country. The England team manager Gareth Southgate has inspired many with his humility, his calm and decisive leadership and the loving way he guides his young team. In a letter written at the start of Euro 2020 he outlined his vision for the team and beyond, printed here in full. Other articles feature the government’s response to the plight of refugees, and preparations for COP26 and climate crisis, highlighted by terrible floods across Western Europe resulting in loss of life. The Primate of All Ireland criticises the UK government’s decision to ‘draw a line’ under the troubles in Northern Ireland, there is disappointment at Parliament’s decision to ratify the UK’s aid budget cuts, as well as the disturbing news that the online giant Amazon destroys unsold products, plus an account of the recent Christian CND Zoom conference attended by more 90 people.
Please pass on to others.
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin Mid July 202 
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin for July
The NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin for July covers a range of topics from Climate Change, Covid crisis funding, a tribute to Martha White, US Civil Rights activist, an article on the thorny issue of women priests, resources and diary dates plus an urgent action request to lobby your MP by the Reset the Debt campaign in advance of a parliamentary debate on 8 July.
Please read and pass on.
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin July 2021
NJPN E-Bulletin 27th June 2021
Another two weeks has flown past, and in that time we had Summer for a week, and then back to the cold weather again! Very much a sign that our climate doesn’t know what it is doing any more. Our lead article this week will be on the Climate and Environment. After the rather disappointing G7 Summit, and yes, we have some articles summing that up, I thought it important that we look at what is being done and said in Christian circles in the run-up to COP26.
We have an interesting Action of the Week concerning Piracy on the High Seas. Something that doesn’t directly affect most of us – but it is real, and it is still happening. Please read, and most importantly pray with, and support the seafarers, through Stella Maris.
Our Conference is rapidly approaching. This will be a really important Conference in the lead up to COP26 in November. If you are still thinking about it, but haven’t yet put your name down, please do so soon. Details are available through our website here. However, before filling in any forms or sending a cheque, please communicate with Geoff Thompson, the NJPN Administrator. Email address firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07365 838535.
All being well, the next e-bulletin will be out in two weeks time, the 11th July. If you have something you particularly want shared, please send it to:- email@example.com. This email address is usually only monitored when the e-bulletin is being prepared, so please do not expect an immediate answer when sending anything.
God bless, and keep well,
NJPN Blog in ICN: Michael and Patricia Pulham – 60 years of campaigning against nuclear weapons
A special commemorative zoom event is planned by Christian CND to mark 60 years of its campaigning against nuclear weapons. It will take place on Monday 12 July at 7pm….
The event was originally scheduled to take place in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, the location of the historic first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. The first resolution it passed called for the elimination of nuclear weapons!
NJPN E-Bulletin 13th June 2021
This week, 14th – 20th June, is Refugee Week. Our Action of the Week and lead articles are all about refugees.
Pope Francis, back in May 2013, wrote the following:-
‘I would like to ask you all to see a ray of hope as well in the eyes and hearts of refugees and of whose who have been forcibly displaced. A hope that is expressed in expectations for the future, in the desire for friendship, in the wish to participate in the host society, also through learning the language, access to employment and the education of children. I admire the courage of those who hope to be able gradually to resume a normal life, waiting for joy and love to return to brighten their existence.
We can and must all nourish this hope!’
Please get involved this week if you can.
Other articles include comments on the G7 Summit, which will have taken place in Cornwall by the time you receive this e-bulletin.
We are continuing to take bookings for our Annual Conference, which takes place the 23rd – 25th July at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. All the details and a booking form are available through our website here. Everyone is welcome and we are particularly keen on encouraging young people to attend. It is a first for me, and I am taking the family! If we can just sow some seeds in the younger generation about caring for our planet and people, the future of the world would look a lot more hopeful.
The next e-bulletin will be out around the 27th June. If you have any articles you want included, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless you and your loved ones,
NJPN E-Bulletin 14 June 2021
NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Aisling Griffin – Understanding Conflict Through Peace Education
I’ve often been in schools talking about Pax Christi’s work when I’ve been asked about a current conflict, such as the on-going situation in Palestine/Israel. I’ve been reflecting on, not only the need for education on conflict but also the things that make for peace.
Many schools may teach about Israel/ Palestine in lessons. However, this is not something all of us feel equipped to discuss and it can often be seen as too complex or difficult to talk about. Discussions and debates about how we see it reported it in the media, stories of conflict and discrimination and comments on social media, make it clear that we need to be equipped to enter into constructive conversations and dialogue. We need an understanding of what is happening in order to be able to work for a just peace. Below are some examples of resources that could be used to do this.
As peacemakers we must reflect on the wider context of conflict and peace education. Companies with factories in Britain produce components of the weaponry used in war and in violent crowd control against peaceful protestors. As a country exporting weaponry to oppressive regimes we need to reflect on our role in promoting and sustaining conflict around the globe. Some of these companies also go into or work with schools to promote science and technology. What are the ethics surrounding this? Should faith schools be inviting them in? Is this showing children and young people a balanced viewpoint and promoting peace?
In Palestine/Israel, and around the world, there are many people working nonviolently to promote a just peace. We rarely hear their stories. Educators, activists, Israeli conscientious objectors and Israeli/Palestinian communities, such as Neve Shalom/Wahat a Salaam, are all working for justice. There is no peace without justice. Let us work to promote these voices and narratives, to see the true cost of violence and war. By learning about the root causes of conflicts and ways in which to discuss them we can engage with them more fully and promote peace in our own lives and globally. Peace education enables us to do this.
As Pax Christi works in both peace education and supporting our partners working for a just peace in Palestine/Israel, we also need to continue to support each other in dealing with conflict and injustice.
Pax Christi: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-education/secondary/workshop-resources/
Quakers in Britain: https://www.quaker.org.uk/resources/free-resources/teaching-resources-2
Aisling Griffin is Pax Christi’s Education Worker.
NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Fr Rob Esdaile – Build Back Different
Next weekend (June 11-13) ‘Global Britain’ is hosting the G7 Summit in Cornwall. The gathering is not truly global, because invitations are limited to the richest industrialised nations, all of them in the Northern hemisphere (although our government has extended an invitation to India, Korea and Australia). However, it does offer a major opportunity for action, both on the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and on the ecological crisis which is the subject of the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November.
The slogan ‘Build Back Better’ has been floating around for the last six months or more. But the real question is: What do you mean by ‘better’? If you mean more of the same model of economic growth based on ever-increasing consumption, the same dependence on fossil fuels, the same throw-away culture which is clogging the oceans with single use plastics, the same supply chains that offshore our own carbon-footprint and keep so many living below the breadline – then all that will ensue is more deforestation, more exploitation of the poorest, more global warming, more turmoil.
‘Better’ has to mean ‘more sustainable’ – both ecologically (keeping below that 1.5 degree rise in global temperatures and reversing habitat destruction) and politically (creating more stable and just societies). ‘Better’ has to mean the redirection of the resources now devoted to war preparations to the fight to save our planet from our own worst actions.
‘Better’ has to mean greater global solidarity in facing both this and future pandemics: the swift supply of vaccines to the poorest nations (not least because, to coin a phrase, ‘no one is safe until all are safe’); and release of those same nations from the debts built up in fighting the virus and in shoring up their own economies.
But above all, ‘better’ has to be about having a renewed vision of the kind of world we seek and a willingness to campaign for it. That demands a Church with a better understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, a seeker after God’s Kingdom and divine justice (Mt 6.33). We Catholics have to be at the heart of the struggle to ‘build back better’, insisting that better means different – a kinder, cleaner, fairer Britain, global in our bridge-building where others would build walls.
Fr Rob Esdaile is parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Thames Ditton.
23-25 July 2021 National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Conference: https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/conference/
NW NJPN E Bulletin for mid-June
An extra edition of the NW NJPN E Bulletin for mid-June features a wide range of resources for Refugee Week 14-20 June including a series of audio dramas from Counterpoint Arts by contemporary Kosovan and Balkan writers, available on Zoom plus news of a photographic series to echo this year’s theme ‘We cannot walk alone.’ Other news articles look at the horrific discovery of a mass grave at a residential school for indigenous children in Canada; German Cardinal Marx’s resignation regarding the Church’s ‘systemic failure’ on abuse; reports from JRS, CAFOD and LIfe on the Breadline. Joan Baez is honoured by the Kennedy Centre for performing Arts for her humanitarian and peace work over a long career. There are obituaries of Sr Isabel Kelly, campaigner against human trafficking, and broadcaster Peter France. Faiths4Change are offering fully funded places on an accredited course in Liverpool to explore climate change and carbon footprints and Green Christian announce a VI Form module based on Laudato Si’. Book reviews and diary dates complete a packed bulletin. Please read and pass on.
NW NJPN Justice and Peace E Bulletin mid June 2021
NJPN Column in the Catholic Universe: Phil Kingston – The Holy Spirit in our Mission
Pope Francis’ book’ Let Us Dream’ is one which brings me new life, principally because he places the Holy Spirit in a central role in our Church. This is something which I rarely find in the UK Church nor in other Churches in the materially rich countries.
However, this centrality abounds in the Churches of the poor countries. My perception is that we are still largely a Church of Christendom rather than one which reflects the Church of the first Christians as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles.
Francis constantly links this centrality of the Holy Spirit to peoples’ current concerns and to the major problems of the world. He skillfully focusses upon Catholic Social Teaching as a well-based way of responding to these. In his Pentecost 2019 homily he said: “Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.”
Most of what follows is in Francis’ own words. He speaks of the Church’s commitment to the poor as an essential part of Catholic Social Teaching. Other aspects which he includes are the common good, the universal sharing of goods, and solidarity with all who are exploited and maginalised – not terms which I often hear in Sunday homilies.
He writes extensively about the three synods which he initiated. ‘Synod’ has been a new word for me and I am appreciating its freshness as a process in the Church. The term means ‘walking together’ and it is the Holy Spirit who brings harmony in that process.
The media have a key role in opening synods to the people of God and the wider world. Sometimes they undermine the capacity for discernment. In the synod on Amazonia some media reduced the whole synodal process to the issue of whether the Church would ordain married men. In reality, that synod gave us a mission and vision to stand with the native peoples, the land and creation against the powerful interests of death and destruction driven solely by profit.
Phil Kingston is a founder member of Christian Climate Action.
23-25 July 2021 National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Conference at: https://www.justice-and-peace.org.uk/conference/